Maybe you lost some weight, or perhaps you ordered a new pair of jeans off Amazon and then discovered they don’t quite fit at the waist when they arrived at your house. Either way, you find yourself facing the problem that your too-big pants don’t fit! If you want to keep wearing your pants, but you don’t like the bunchy look of cinching it all in with a belt, you will find yourself facing the question of how to tighten pants without a belt.
The best temporary way to tighten pants without a belt is to use a safety pin, shoelace, or suspenders. The simplest permanent way to tighten pants without a belt is to take in the side seams or pay a tailor to alter the waist. Shrinking the pants will also permanently resize the waist.
In this article, you will learn thirteen easy ways to tighten pants without a belt. You will also find tips on how to wear jeans without a belt. Finally, you will discover how to wear a belt with pants that have no belt loops.
How to Tighten Pants Without a Belt: 13 Easy Methods
You can create many different stylish looks that tighten your pants without wearing a belt. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a belted look! But sometimes you don’t have a belt at hand, or it wouldn’t go with your outfit for the day.
When that happens, try one of these thirteen easy styles instead!
1. Belt Replacer
If your pants have belt loops, you can easily substitute many colorful or unique objects in place of a belt. This creates a different style while still holding your pants up! This technique can work for both men and women, but you will want to select an item from the list below that suits your personal aesthetic and matches the outfit you have in mind.
Try one of these as a belt replacer:
- A silk scarf folded into a long rectangle or loosely gathered for a more boho look.
- A length of rope. For extra flair, knot it or braid it into a unique pattern!
- A long piece of duct tape folded over on itself, so it isn’t sticky.
- A long chain looped over itself.
- One or two neckties knotted together.
- You probably want to reserve this one for a desperate situation, but if you’re working outside and you have a loose pants situation, you could always use a bungee cord to keep your trousers in place!
2. Button It
If you need a quick fix for loose pants with a button closure, you can stitch an extra button a bit farther into the waist. This means you can move the buttonhole farther inside the waist and create a smaller circle for the waistband.
Even if you have never sewed a stitch in your life, you can handle sewing on a button. Just follow these simple steps!
You will need a needle, scissors, chalk or a fabric pencil, a button the same size as the one already on your pants, and a piece of thread that matches the color of the pants.
- First, cut a length of thread about twelve inches long. Tie a double knot at one end of the thread.
- Use the unknotted end of the thread to thread the needle. If you’re new to needles, pick one that has a large eye to make threading easier! Also, make sure the needle has a sharp tip for easily puncturing the thick fabric of your trousers.
- Next, try on your pants. Unbutton them and move the empty buttonhole over until the waistband feels snug. Use chalk or a fabric pencil to draw a line through the buttonhole, marking this new location on the waistband.
- Pull the needle through at this marking from the inside of the waistband. The knot in the thread should catch and hold inside the waistband.
- Slide the needle through one of the holes in the button. Allow the button to slip down the length of the thread, and then hold the button firmly in place on the chalk marking.
- Push the needle through another hole in the button, and pull the thread all the way through. You should now have one loop of thread holding the button in place.
- You will repeat this process, pushing the needle out through one hole in the button and then bringing it back in through another hole in the button until the button seems firmly fixed to the waistband.
- To finish the process, tie another knot inside the waistband, knotting off your thread to prevent it from unraveling.
Now you should have two buttons on your waistband, allowing you to make the waist bigger or smaller as needed!
You can use many different kinds of clips to temporarily tighten your pants. This trick works best when you need an outfit to look great for just a few minutes, such as during a photoshoot. For example, wedding dress stores use clips at the back of the dress to let brides see how a too-large dress would look if it was the right size.
You wouldn’t want to bop around town while wearing a clip to hold your pants up because the clip looks bulky at the back! The exception to this will be if you have a nice long, baggy shirt to drape over the clip, hiding it.
You can use any kind of item that will pinch together the waistband of your pants, including:
- Clothespins–the kind with a hinge will work best. You should not use wooden pins, as a loose splinter could snag your pants.
- Binder clips. These have a tight grip that holds!
- Chip bag clips, like the kind you can buy at Ikea.
- Seamstress clips. These usually have rubber tips over the ends of the clamps, making them a good choice for delicate trousers.
4. Elastic Waist
If you’re working on losing weight or in between pant sizes, you may want to consider going with elastic waist pants for a while. Before you roll your eyes and move on to the next method, we’re not talking about your grandma’s elastic pants here!
These days, you can find elastic-waist pants in many fashionable styles. You can even find jeans with an elastic waist! Brands such as Loft, St John’s Bay, and LuLuLemon sell cute elastic-waist pants for women. For men, try Land’s End, Aeropostal, or L.L Bean for nice pants with a comfy waist.
Of course, you would have to buy the pants, so this isn’t a great last-minute solution. But if you know you’re changing sizes, you may want to go elastic for a while.
5. Layer Your Look
Another quick fix for a loose-pant situation is to wear layered clothes. This will bulk out your waist a bit, making your waistband fit again!
You can do this in several different ways:
- The easiest way to do this is to wear a tuck-in shirt! If you pair your too-large pants with a button-down or a similar style that looks good tucked in, the extra layer of shirt between you and the pants might do the trick!
- Wear a t-shirt or tank top under your shirt. You can tuck in the undershirt and leave the outer shirt hanging to cover the added bulk at your waist!
- Tuck in a sweater or puffier shirt to keep your pants tight.
- Alternatively, you can wear leggings, shorts, or (in really desperate circumstances) extra undies to make your pants fit!
- Another possible solution, beloved of many schoolgirls in years past, is to roll over the waistband of your pants. This only works with some pant styles, but rolling over the waistband a couple of times will make it bulkier and fit more closely!
This method works well if you’re in a hurry and at home, where you can grab an extra piece of clothing to bulk things out a bit as you get dressed.
6. Paper Clips
If you have thin pants and a large paper clip, you can try this method to pinch together the waistband of your trousers in an emergency! This works well if you’re on the go and have to borrow a pair of pants that don’t quite fit you.
How does it work?
- Lay your pants flat on the floor with the back of the pants facing up.
- Locate the two center belt loops at the back of the waistband.
- Thread a large paper clip through one of those loops. Then pinch the center back of the waistband in so that you can thread the second belt loop through the paper clip, as well. This works just like threading a key onto a key chain–you have to slide the belt loop through the paperclip until it gets to the center of the clip.
- Arrange the clip, so it lays flat, horizontal to the waistband.
- Wear a shirt, sweater, or sweatshirt that will overhang the waistband to hide the paperclip!
7. Safety Pin Pleat
Safety pins offer one of the most secure, least obvious methods to make your pants tighter. Anytime you need to make a hasty adjustment that looks more or less like sewing, you can use a safety pin on the inside of your clothes to simulate stitches!
You can create either a dart-like fold or a pleated fold at the back of the waistband, depending on how much you need to take in the waist. Small, unobtrusive pins will work best for this, though if you want to take in jeans or pants with a thick fabric, you may need larger pins.
- First, turn your pants inside out. Smooth them out on the floor or a table with the back of the pants facing up.
- For a dart-like fold, find the center of the waist. Pinch this together, creating a triangle of fabric at the center back of the pants.
- Fold the top of the triangle to one side, and pin it in place to the waistband.
- For a fold that looks more like a pleat, start with the pants face-down on the floor. Then locate the center back. Measure an inch to either side of that center point, and mark this with chalk or an extra safety pin.
- Next, bring that marked point to the center point. DO this for both sides, creating a pleated fold.
- Pin the folds in place, trying to make sure the safety pins do not show on the outside of the pants.
You can adjust the amount of fabric you fold into the dart or pleat. A bigger fold will make the waistband smaller, but it will also look more obvious.
8. Sew It
Depending on the kind of pants you need to have altered, a bit of sewing may offer a quick but permanent solution. Jeans, khakis, and anything made with a tough fabric won’t work as well for this method unless you have a special sewing machine that can handle thick fabric!
That said, dress pants, sweatpants, and anything with a thin material allow for easy alteration.
You will need a sewing machine, matching thread, chalk, and scissors for this method.
- Try on your pants inside out. Bunch up the loose fabric at either side of your waist, trying to make sure you gather up equal amounts on each side.
- Use sewing pins or sewing clips to hold the loose fabric at the sides. This will let you know how much to take in the waist on each side.
- Take the pants off and draw the line you want to sew on each side with a piece of chalk. You need to start at the new point you pinned at the waistband and taper the line toward the old side seam until your chalk line meets the side seam. Do this for each side.
- Set up your sewing machine with matching thread. Then simply sew down the chalk lines you drew, creating two new side seams!
- Use your scissors to snip off any hanging threads.
As a pro tip, to properly alter the size of a pair of pants, you have to remove the waistband, adjust both the side seams and the rear seam, and possibly add some discrete darts. Then you sew the waistband back on, and the pants look as if you bought them in that new size!
However, this process requires a lot of work and a fair bit of skill. Simply stitching in a new side seam works well enough for a quick fix!
It might not look fancy, but a simple shoelace can save the day and hold your pants up all on its own! This method works on any kind of pants that have belt loops. All you need is a shoelace or any kind of string at least six inches long.
- Put your pants on so you know how much to tighten them.
- Rhea behind yourself to find the two belt loops closest to the center back of your pants.
- Thread the shoelace through both of these loops.
- Pull firmly on both ends of the shoelace, tightening the belt loops toward each other.
- Tie the ends of the shoelace into a bow or a knot.
- Tuck the loose ends of the shoelace inside the waist of your pants to hide them!
10. Shrinking Options
It’s a bit risky, but you can shrink most pants by a size or two using a hot-water method. Shrinking clothes can reduce them by as much as two to three sizes, but you do run the risk of a skewed shrink or shrinking your pants too much. For this reason, you should probably save the shrinking method as a last resort, as it will permanently alter your pants.
Also, some kinds of fabric shrink easily, while others do not. Any kind of fabric with high cotton content, such as denim, will shrink pretty easily.
- Fill a large pot about two-thirds full of water. Bring it to a boil on your stovetop.
- Carefully lower your pants into the boiling water. You may want to use tongs to avoid splashing yourself with hot water.
- Let the pants boil for about twenty minutes.
- Carry the pot to your kitchen sink. Make sure the sink is clean first! Use the tongs again to lift the pants out of the boiling water and into the sink.
- Once the pants cool down enough to touch, take them to your dryer. Run them through a normal cycle to dry all the way.
Using string to hold up your pants doesn’t look super classy, but in desperate times it can keep your pants up until you find a better solution!
All you have to do is run a piece of string or twine through your belt loops so that the string circles your waist several times. The doubled-up string will act as a belt!
You may find that the string has a sharper edge than the average belt, which will cause it to press through the pants and dig into your stomach when you bend over. Using safety pins or the shoelace method will probably feel more comfortable in the long run.
Suspenders offer a classy, old-fashioned alternative to a belt. Most modern suspenders have little clips at each end that allow them to loop over each shoulder and then fasten to the waistband of your pants, holding it up in front and back!
Indeed, you can’t pair suspenders with every kind of outfit. They might not look great with sweatpants, for example! But you might be surprised how many cute looks you could put together with a blouse, suspenders, and rolled-up cuffs on your pants for women. For men, everything from a t-shirt to formal wear can look great with suspenders!
You can buy a pair of suspenders for less than ten dollars from many different brands, making this a cost-effective solution, too!
13. Tailor It
Last but not least, if you have a quality pair of pants and they just don’t fit you anymore, you may want to consider professional tailoring. On average, tailors charge from $14-20 to alter a waistband. They have tools that remove a waistband and then reattach it much easier than it is for the average home sewer!
Plus, a tailor will take in your pants so neatly that it will look like they were made that way!
The downside is that you will have to decide for yourself if this method is worth the cost. If your pants cost less than $20, to begin with, you may not want to spend that much money on alterations.
How to Make Jeans Stay Up Without a Belt
The shoelace method or wearing suspenders work well to make sagging jeans stay up without a belt. Using safety pins or clips does not work on jeans since the thick fabric will bunch up and look obvious.
For jeans that feel just a bit too loose, try wearing an undershirt tucked in or a pair of leggings beneath the jeans. This works great in cold weather because you get extra insulation and a bit of extra bulk to pull your pants tight around your waist!
You may also need to reconsider the style of jeans you purchase. Different cuts of jeans have differently shaped waists. Some of these styles fit certain body types better than others. For example, skinny jeans typically have a cinched-in waist to keep them up, while low-rise jeans should wrap around your hips and can slide down more easily on people with narrow hips.
Finally, the cotton fibers in denim do loosen and get softer over time. This means that you probably need to purchase jeans that feel a tiny bit too tight because they stretch out as you wear them.
How Do You Keep Your Pants Up?The easiest way to make sure your pants stay up is to buy pants in size and style that fits your body type precisely. If you don’t have the time, money, or patience to make that happen, you can try any of the methods described in this article.
You can also purchase some tools designed to keep pants up. These include:
- A waistband clip that you twist inside the waist to take up the excess fabric. Amazon sells this one.
- You can pay a tailor to insert side tabs. These small loops attach to a button inside the waistband, pulling the waist a bit tighter at each side.
- You can try a hip-hugger or buckle-less belt. Check out this model on Amazon!
How to Put a Belt on Pants Without Loops
You can wear a belt over pants that do not have belt loops, but the belt will look more decorative than effective unless you cinch it very tightly.
Most men’s pants come with belt loops. Women’s clothing, especially skirts, often do not. Because of this, women often wear belts as a decorative statement piece rather than to hold up pants or a skirt.
You can tighten a belt around loopless pants and cinch it into your waist so thoroughly that it will press the fabric into you and keep it in place. But you will probably feel quite uncomfortable if you try this!
Instead, you may want to sew belt loops onto your pants if they require a belt.
How to Tighten a Belt
You can make a belt smaller by adding additional holes, moving the buckle, or knotting the end of the belt around your waist decoratively.
Adding additional holes for the belt tongue will let you buckle the belt in a smaller circle around your waist. To do this, you can use special leather punches or a drill with a small drill bit attached. If you use the drill, make sure you have a work table or outdoor surface beneath the belt so you don’t drill into your floor or furniture!
You can also remove the buckle, cut away a portion of the belt, and then reattach the buckle to make the belt smaller. This process takes a bit of work, but it could leave you with a brand-new-looking belt in a smaller size!
To do this, you will need a small screwdriver. Use the screwdriver to remove the two tiny screws that hold most belt buckles to the belt. Then measure how much of the belt you want to remove, and cut away a portion of the leather or fabric.
You will need to use leather tools or a drill to put new holes at the newly cut end for the screws. Then simply reattach the buckle using the screws!
Finally, you can always wear a belt wrapped twice around your waist for an interesting fashion statement or knot the dangling ends together for a stylish look.
You can hold your pants up without a belt in many easy and effective ways, including wearing suspenders, using safety pins to make a pleat at the waistband, or paying a tailor to alter the pants into your precise body shape.
You can also employ several emergency rescue methods, like knotting a shoelace in the back belt loops to cinch them together or using a clothespin to gather up the excess fabric of the waist.
Have you ever had to deal with baggy pants? How did you make them stay up? Leave a comment below to let us know!